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Venture capital firm of the year

Winner: 3i

Highly commended: TVM Techno Venture Management

Highly commended: Index Ventures

Evcj’s venture capital firm of the year award for 2000 was a hard category to set judging criteria for. In the end it was decided to concentrate on building a short-list from those investors that had created successful technology companies in Europe. This decision was based on the fact that it was the rise and fall of technology – in the Internet space and beyond – that will continue to characterise the year 2000 for the private equity industry. Even those firms not investing in technology experienced the knock on effects of the technology sector’s roller coaster ride.

Winner of evcj’s venture capital firm of the year award in 2000 is 3i. 3i had a landmark year in 2000. In February it acquired Germany’s oldest technology venture capital investor Technologieholding, in May it went on to buy the Finnish venture capital firm SFK Finance, and in September it acquired the remaining 80 per cent in Bank Austria TFV High Tech-Unternehmens that it did not already own. With the offer for the major part of Atle, a leading quoted Swedish private equity investor in February this year, 3i is fast becoming the European venture capital house while at the same time participating across the mid market and mega buyout deal spectrum.

Since floating at a price of 272 pence per share in the summer of 1994, 3i saw its share price go over £17 a share last year. This is currently down to over £11 a share. 3i’s exposure to technology investments – nudging close to 50 per cent of its portfolio – has contributed to the current sharp value revisions. However, it remains the case that the firm committed considerable capital to the technology sector in 2000 and saw some successful exits – the partial sale of Bookham in September last year being a case in point.

Both firms in the highly commended category have strong a European presence and are close to US venture capital investors which is reflected in the companies in which they invest and the market development subsequently followed by investee companies.

Highly commended in this category is TVM Techno Venture Management. TVM Techno Venture Management invests in technology and life sciences companies and in 2000 saw monies going into Eurogene, Ingenium, Wilex Biotechnology and Coley Pharmaceuticals. The firm achieved two European exits via the Neuer Markt in Frankfurt. These were Medigene and EVOTEC, and Actelion, which was floated on the Swiss SWX New Market in April when global stock markets were turbulent. Despite this, Actelion saw its offer 19 times oversubscribed.

Also, highly commended in this category is Swiss-based Index Ventures. A technology and life sciences investor, Index Ventures had a notable year in its European investments with money in going into Genmab, Mediasurface, Ingenium and Structural GenomiX, and was lead investor on a $12 million financing for webfair and raised €20 million for Flutter.com. In September, Norwegian firm Stepstone ASA went for an IPO on the Oslo Borse and in October Denmark’s Genmab dual listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and Frankfurt.